Kate Leth’s Mall Goth is a charming period piece that covers universal experiences about being a teen, with more optimism than I expected. That’s welcome.
It’s the early 2000s. Liv has just moved to a new town. She’s not shy about being a goth or liking girls (she’s bisexual), but she is a bit burned by previous experiences when she wasn’t treated well. Also, her father is increasingly absent. At least the mall provides a place to hang out, get a part-time job (embarrassing), and crush on the girl at the video game store (also embarrassing).
I love Leth’s art style. Liv is cute. She looks her teen age, without it being creepy or her being baby-faced. I want the best for her, which makes it all the more difficult when bad things start happening. None of it is her fault, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
Liv tries to make friends with Jake, as they have a number of things in common, but while she wants to open up to him, he just wants to flirt. Liv tries to be friends with Layla, but she’s dating Jake, which adds a complication.
I really liked the way that ultimately, the girls weren’t pitted against each other. That’s another welcome break from cliche. The dialogue is also well-done, succinct but character-appropriate. The men in this book don’t come off well, but that’s also sometimes realistic when it comes to a girl’s teenage years. I enjoyed reading this multiple times, finding different layers each time I did.